Monthly Archives: October 2010

Issue of October 31, 2010

‘Tis cold and flu season, an often miserable time yet also—if you are not too sick—good for reading. With that in mind, we have some great reading for you and some suggestions for even more great reading. Take care! We’ll see you again next week.

Family memories are probably the most complex any of us will have in our lives. Bad or good, difficult or wonderful, warm or callous—or more commonly a mix that changes in every stage of our lives. Lindsay Champion reviews a poignant new memoir where “the stories capture a sense of childlike magic and love for her family’s traditions, but are laced with a desire for more” in Ode to My Family.

In 1968, the world seemed aflame. And in Mexico City, the city of that year’s Olympics, the Tlatelolco Massacre not only became a pivotal point in Mexican politics, it also became the basis for a novel that over the course of three rewrites in a dozen years became what Nicki Leone, in quoting the author, says possesses “the spontaneity of the people . . . the precision of clockwork, a few touches of humor, a dose of the absurd, and a lot of vengeance” in It’s All About Who Has the Guns.

It’s interview #13 for Lauren Baratz-Logsted in her DI series, and to celebrate this special number, she undertakes an interview with . . . herself. Don’t worry; both Lauren1 and Lauren2 dish it out with equal measure, making for a memorable discussion in The Disrespectful Interview: Dissing Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

Lauren Roberts, who prides herself on rarely getting sick, has in fact succumbed to an early manifestation of the 2010 Cold and Flu Season. Being down is not necessarily the same as being out, though you shouldn’t expect much in the way of brilliant prose from me this week in Socked and Sacked.


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Holiday Shopping

I’ve been accused of being too organized. And I accept the accusation as true. I’m the kind of person who begins her holiday shopping in February and is finished by late September, excepting a few stocking stuffers and perhaps a new book. When I buy something I put it on a shelf in my closet and throughout the year I occasionally take it down to look at it, get excited over imagining the recipient’s reaction, and put it back with a renewed spirit and anticipatory smile.

I don’t mind the craziness of stores putting Christmas stuff up before Labor Day because I never see it. With the exception of my local independent bookstore and a rare trip into a thrift or antique store, I shop online. That’s because I hate shopping. If I need something I want to go in, get it, get it, and get out. The idea of hanging around a mall (eeek!) all day (double eeek!) for fun appalls me.

That said, I have been doing a lot of “shopping” over the last three weeks and I have at least two more weeks to go. This is not shopping for my gift recipients, but for yours.  During the last five weeks leading up to Christmas I will be offering gift ideas, suggestions, and links to you via the editor’s letter.

This is something I’ve done for several years now, and I find I enjoy it. It is a lot of work, using various combinations of book, booklover, reader, reading, gifts for, and holiday gifts in Google’s search engine. But it’s not hard, just tedious at times. If a site or store offers several items that readers and booklovers will enjoy I need to look at each and determine if I want it to be part of the list I am compiling. The items must be well made, have value, and there must not be too many of the same type of item. Mugs, for example, are very common and if I listed every book- or reading-related mug I saw I’d need a *lot* more space than I have. Plus you’d get bored.

To make this as efficient as possible, I have a Word document that lists categories as I think of them. Right now I have Book Art, Bookends, Bookmarks & Bookplates, Book Holders, Bookshelves & Bookcases, Boxes, Bumper Stickers, Buttons, Calendars, Children, Clothing, Crafts, Food & Food-Related Items, Free, Games, Handbags & Totes, Holiday Cards & Wrapping Paper, Home, Homemade Ideas (things you can easily and inexpensively make), Horror Lovers, Jewelry, Journals, Magazine Subscriptions, Miscellaneous, Mugs, Mystery Lovers, Notecards, Pens & Pencils, Postcards, Posters, and Unusual Books. In addition, I have several sites bookmarked because they offer so much it will take time to go through them and pick out things to add.

Prices vary as much as the items from free to thousands of dollars, but most are within the loosely defined “affordable” range, say five to one hundred dollars. I want you to have as much choice as possible, and believe me, you will.

It’s been fun because I enjoy seeing the enormous range creativity out there. And because, I will admit, I am very tempted by a number of items. It gives me pleasure to discover and to share, and I hope that when the five-week shopping foray begins on November 21 that you will enjoy it as much as I have.

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Issue of October 24, 2010

Autumn in some places, winter in others, this time of year is nature’s transition zone. So it seems with reading too as many of us move into books that provide comfort in the same way that grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni-and-cheese casseroles do. In this new issue, our contributors have also moved into new territory and we invite you along to share their joys and discoveries.

Icons often have little in common with their human beings except for the one thing that connects them. Pete Croatto finds a new book about one icon of oceanic environmentalism that uncovers the man as a flawed human in, unfortunately, a flawed biography in Gasping for Air.

Cheddar isn’t just for cheese. It also refers to the famous Cheddar Gorge and Cheddar Caves near the village of Cheddar, England. It’s a gorgeous, wonderful, historic area, and for anyone interested in caves, caving, and wondrous geology this is the place to come as Lauren Roberts reports in Marking Caves.

Writing a cookbook means delving deeply into other cookbooks, a labor of love for Gillian Polack, who found the very first Australian Jewish ever published, simply called Hebrew Cookery by “an Australian.” Why and how “it’s special in all the wrong ways” is what she shares in In Search of Nineteenth-Century Food.

With so many distractions grasping at our time and our attention, it is becoming more uncommon, as Lev Raphael notes, to find a book whose “spell was so powerful that not even the lure of the Internet could pull us away.” But he did find two, by the same author, that focus on the “decay, fantasy, nostalgia and the march (or perhaps waltz) of time” as he shares in A Waltz to the Music of Time.

With perfect timing, David G. Mitchell explores the background and the even more interesting opinions of the founder of a high quality and unusual publisher focusing on fine limited edition books of new and classic fantasy and horror fiction in A Halloween Conversation with Tom English of Dead Letter Press.

Halloween the holiday often means costume parties and passing out candy to children. But for cats it is dangerous. Lauren Roberts posts a plea on behalf of all cats; she also shares her love of two versions of one story that are no less than the perfect H-night story in A Happy “Boo!” to You.

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Affecting Readers

Sometimes your day just gets made by a simple thing.

Not long ago, David Mitchell (“Things Said and Done”) forwarded an e-mail he had received earlier to Nicki Leone and me as well as the publisher of Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul Australia’s Worst Military Disaster of World War II , a book he had reviewed, writing:

Thought you might appreciate and enjoy the following note I received from a veteran of WWII who served on the battle cruiser Saratoga for more than three years before redploying with the Marines to Peleliu.  He discovered Fortress Rabaul thanks to BiblioBuffet and has now read it and is looking for another work by the same author. 

It may be a small thing but I find it extraordinarily satisfying to know that because John [the publisher] sent me a book, and I decided to write about it, and Nicki chose to edit my writing, and Lauren chose to publish my column, a man who risked his life 65+ years ago has been able to enjoy some of the few remaining days he has left on this earth by reading a good book!  Thanks to you all!

—– Forwarded Message —-

Just finish reading Fortress, sent to me by daughter Leslie who lives in Pensacola Fl.

I could not put it down, I was in the South Pacific aboard the USS Saratoga from Aug. 1940 to Dec. 1943. As I read the book I could recall many of things as they happened. I sent back overseas with the 5th. Marine div. and ended up on Peleliu. Now I have to find the book Darkest Hour.

Oh yes, that feels good. To know that you were able to guide an appreciative reader, especially one who has a personal interest in the subject, to a great book is an extraordinary feeling. I love e-mails like this!

And the Universe must have been listening too because this week we published Lauren Baratz-Logsted ‘s piece, The Book Pyramid and the response has been stunning. From well-known reviewers to blog commentators, everyone who has written to Lauren or publicly posted has loved it. Among the comments:

I couldn’t help but wonder, as I read your very funny post on the Literary Pyramid, where you would place Historical Fiction (Patrick O’Brian, etc.) and the male equivalent of Romance: Adventure stories?

Surely, these genres are sufficiently vague and varied, but clearly understood by a (predominantly male) reading public, to join your list! ~ Matthew


And, in further links of awesomeness, Lauren Baratz-Logsted wrote up what she considers her Book Pyramid, which parallels the AMA Food Pyramid only instead of nutrition, it ranks books by the respect they receive.

Yeah. This can’t end well for romance. I have to say, I grinned at her comment:

On behalf of every sensible-minded person in publishing, Romance, I’d like to offer my apologies. You make countless people happy and you make more money than any other category. In fact, it’s thanks to you and all the money you bring in that many other books are even published. You, in effect, pick up the tab. So you deserve better than being next to last. That said, you’re sensible, Romance, far more sensible than many give you credit for. So I know you’ll understand it’s not me putting you so close to rock bottom, but rather, I am only the messenger who has designed the Book Pyramid which merely depicts the reality you already know all too well: that what you do does not receive the respect it deserves. Now, please. Go do something about the worst of those covers. You’re practically as bad as Horror.~  Smart Bitches, Trashy Books


If the book pyramid is modeled after the “old” food pyramid, then chick lit is the “grain” that should be read frequently. Moreover, literary fiaction is the “fat” that shuld be read infrequently. Hey, I like that reading diet!

Even the “new” pyramid (with the line running vertically) emphasizes that a healthy eating (readgin) diet contains all food (book) groups.

Or we could compare books to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where chicklit satisfies our basic needs, romance satisfies our comfort needs, thrillers/suspense/horror satisfies our psychological needs, literary fiction satisfies our self actualization, and blogs satisfies our peak experiences ~ Kim in Hawaii


Brilliant and funny insights . . . ~ Jodi Picoult

Thank you from all of us at BiblioBuffett to all of you who like us (or at least read us). It is the readers’ comments and notes and e-mails that not only make our day brighter but that keep us reading and writing with you in mind.

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Issue of October 17, 2010

Brrr, it’s cold here where I live and the urge to cuddle up with guy, cats, books, blanket, and a cup of hot cider is strong. Of course, if one or more of those elements was missing the others would still be okay—if not perfect. At least I can count on the books. And so can you. This week, we have some great reading for you. Check below to find out what it is.

Making lemonade out of lemons or, more accurately, making new possibilities out of disasters, is a specialty for Nicki Leone, who had the opportunity to do just that when Tropical Storn Nicole blew through her town and pummeled its way into her library as she relates in The Universe Wants Me to Have More Bookshelves.

For a culture that was supposed to “say no to drugs” in the 1980s, we sure are interested in them. Lindsay Champion reviews a memoir from one of the great independent publishers in which the author charts his life—and what a life it is—through the haze of a favored drug in Not to My Recollection.

Pyramids aren’t just for food any more. Lauren Baratz-Logsted decided to create her own (rather brilliant, and decidedly funny) Book Pyramid based on what she perceives as the “hierarchy of respect accorded various types of books” in The Book Pyramid.

When does a cookbook become a work of art? When it offers both the possibility of great cuisine, wonderful reading, and exquisite art. Lauren Roberts stopped by a used book sale and found not just lots of books but an opportunity for all three possibilities in one book, which she describes in The (Book) Art of Great Italian Cooking.

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Issue of October 10, 2010

What do you have for you this week? A curious bookmark, baseball, remarkable sportswriting in an old but still excellent book, and a literary rant about genres and what we miss by using them. Please enjoy our new issue, and have a wonderful week!

One of the most startling bookmarks to come into Lauren Roberts’s life involved a swastika, the symbol that for most of the Western world today represents evil. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the swastika has a long and honored history, and in WWI was even part of a war savings movement in Britain. This remarkable history comes to light in Saving for War.

While visiting a historic town, Pete Croatto found an equally historic (and rarely found) book that offers “slow-cooked sports reporting,” and he happily reports the why of its brilliance in  The Franchise’s Icon.

“Why can there be such a gulf between the books paranormal romance writers write and what those who don’t read paranormal romances think they write?” asks Gillian Polack before she begins her exploration of why some readers—not her—judge the book or the literacy of the author without having read the genre in Where Gillian Rants (paranormally).

If, as David G. Mitchell writes, baseball fans are all statisticians and historians at heart then a new, and great, book choking full of information solely on home run hitters is bound to attract their attention. History, nostalgia, baseball—read all about it in Going . . . Going . . . Gone!

The reading bug has (thankfully) returned to Lauren Roberts’s life, and in this letter she explores the differences and similarities in reading books in print, on an e-reader and with audio books in Formatting the Book.

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Issue of October 3, 2010

This week, we present a rather wide range of interesting material—from scary to snark, and even a bit of warmth. Thanks for reading us! We hope you enjoy it.

As a lover of Jane Austen’s books, Nicki Leone’s desire to keep the characters “with her” by rereading them grew to encompass books that brought the Austen world alive. So when an annotated version of her favorite novel, full of notations and historical minutiae showed up what else was she to do but read it? How was it? Find out in On the Limited Charms of Stating the Obvious.

It’s somewhat ironic that Lindsay Champion chose a scary book to review this month, yet it wouldn’t be shelved in Horror. Instead, this new book about what is being termed the “peep culture” of today is in fact, factual as she notes, in The Dawning of the Age of Peep.

Where does Lauren Baratz-Logsted keep finding her willing victims interviewees? All over, apparently, and this month the latest one steps from a controversry of his own making into the heat of The Disrespectful Interviewer: Dissing J.A. Konrath.

Flagging enthusiasm for reading for a passionate reader happens. But how long should it go on? Lauren Roberts contemplates her current non-reading state in When the Enthusiasm Just Isn’t There.

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